Salt to the earth and Light to the World
Frequently we hear ‘experts’ say that too much salt is bad for us; this is probably true; too much of anything is not good for us. But food without any salt is bland, tasteless and just not very nice! Since ancient times salt has been used to purify, preserve, season and flavour food. At the time of Jesus, salt was very valuable and expensive. Roman soldiers were often paid with blocks of salt which they then traded. Salt was basically used as money! Hence the phrase, to be worth your weight in salt!
What is Jesus saying when he calls and asks us to be salt to the earth? Salt makes a difference to food as we said. Without it, food cannot be preserved and at times cannot be eaten. Salt, used properly can brighten and enliven food. Can we say the same about ourselves as followers of Jesus. Do I make a difference to those around me through what I say, what do and how I live my daily life? By my living the gospel of Jesus, do I brighten and enliven the world around me? Am I worth my weight in salt?
Then Jesus uses another powerful symbol to challenge us. He says to each of us; ‘You are the Light of the world… no one lights a lamp and then hides it under a basket, they put it on a lampstand and it gives light to the world. In the same way, your (own) light must shine before others.’
I often find this statement from Jesus strange. In the start of John’s gospel it says; The Word was the real light, that gives light to everyone.’ Later in the gospel Jesus clearly says; I am the Light of the World. So through Jesus, the Light of God comes into the world to dispel all darkness. This has echoes of the great phrase; The people in darkness have seen a great light. Now Jesus very clearly says, You are the Light of the world. This is very encouraging and also very challenging. We now share the responsibility with Jesus of being people of light who shine brightly in and for the world.
I might ask myself who am I to be the light of the world, I have only one small light, what difference can make? If we all shine our own small light, think of the difference we could make in and for the world. Together, we are the living breathing and shining church. We are much brighter and stronger together than we are on our own. This can be seen very clearly in Lourdes. At the torch light procession each person has one small candle. When the Ave Marie chorus is sung, everyone holds up their one candle and suddenly the night shimmers and shines as the Pilgrim Church is visible for all to see; the people in darkness see a great light!
When Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa, he quoted a poem written by Marianne Williamson; from which this line is taken; We are all meant to shine; we were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
Today, take a moment of silence and say, Jesus is the light of the world and so am I!